Questions to ask an adoption attorney, general guidelines on standards plus a free downloadable worksheet
Financial Matters of Hiring an Adoption Attorney
- What is the average cost of the adoptions you have handled?
- How do you bill? Is your fee an hourly rate, or do you charge a flat fee? (Keep in mind that ethical, experienced adoption attorneys may have a higher hourly rate but charge less overall because they spend less time than a less-experienced adoption attorney would.)
- Do you require a retainer fee in advance? If so, how much? What happens to my retainer fee if the birth mother changes her mind?
Qualifications of the Adoption Attorney
- What is your experience, knowledge, competence? How long have you worked in adoption?
- How many non-relative adoptions have you completed? How many this year? (Ten to 20 a year and several years of experience being an adoption attorney are desirable.) What percentage of your total practice is devoted to adoption? (Fifty to 100 percent suggests adoption expertise.)
- What services do you provide? Will you actively assist me in finding an adoption situation as well as handle the necessary legal work? Attorneys in some states cannot match you to a birth mother (a practice that is allowed in many states). Make sure that you and the birth parents are represented by different adoption attorneys.
- What is your general philosophy about adoption? Why did you get involved in adoption?
- Do you handle open adoptions, confidential adoptions or both? Do you have strong feelings about openness?
- Will your office keep me up-to-date and involved?
- Do you see counseling for birth parents as helpful? Why or why not?
- Will you accept collect calls from birth parents? Do you have a toll-free number?
- When you are away from the office, is another knowledgeable adoption attorney available?
Other Things to Think About When Considering an Adoption Attorney
- Does the lawyer answer your questions to your satisfaction?
- Does the lawyer return your phone calls promptly?
- Is the lawyer sensitive to your feelings?
- Is the lawyer well informed about adoption law?
- Is the lawyer well organized?
- Does the lawyer pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable with the decision-making process?
- Does the lawyer openly discuss the financial and emotional risks involved?
- Are the lawyer and support staff pleasant people who help you feel at ease and who will assist the birth parents graciously?
Search for attorneys in BYF’s Adoption Attorney Directory.
Download BYF’s Adoption Attorney Worksheet, a free worksheet to fill out for each adoption attorney you’re considering.
Adapted from materials by Amy Silberberg and Diane Michelsen.